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Bolton: Iraq, Cuba seek materials banned by Bio weapons pact

 

 

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM

Friday, August 30, 2002

WASHINGTON The United States has accused Iraq, Iran and Cuba of seeking to exploit a proposed ban on biological weapons to aid their own weapons of mass destruction programs.

 

Earlier this year, the Bush administration rejected a revised draft of the Biological Weapons Convention, Middle East Newsline reported. The international treaty bans the development, production, stockpiling and acquisition of biological weapons.

 

"Countries such as Iran, Iraq, and Cuba have fought the hardest for free access to the technology, knowledge, and equipment necessary to pursue biological weapons," Under Secretary of State John Bolton said. "Their argument was simple: as states parties to the BWC they should be allowed free trade in all biological materials."

 

 

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U.S. admits failure in stopping North Korean proliferation

 

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More than a dozen countries are said to be pursuing biological weapons, officials said. They include Cuba, Iraq, Iraq, Libya, Syria and North Korea.

"Unrepentant rogues, such as Saddam Hussein, continue to seek illegal weapons to sow massive destruction on civilian targets with complete disregard to the BWC and other international agreements," Bolton said. "Iran, Libya, Syria, and North Korea are also pursuing these illegitimate and inhumane weapons."

 

U.S. officials said states such as Iran and Iraq have objected to rules that would control the spread of dual-use components for biological weapons while seeking to gain access to technology and equipment that would bolster their WMD programs. Both of these states are believed to be engaged in BW development.

 

In an address to the Tokyo-American Center on Tuesday, Bolton, responsible for State Department policy on arms control and international security, said Cuba maintains "at least a limited, offensive biological warfare research-and-development effort. Terrorist groups are actively seeking the knowledge, equipment, and material necessary for biological weapons."

 

Bolton said the United States rejected the draft protocol for three reasons. He said traditional arms control would not work on biological weapons; the treaty compromised national security and confidential business information; and proliferators would have used the treaty to undermine other effective international export control regimes.

 

Officials said the United States was pressured by other countries to agree to the establishment of a cooperation committee linked to the BWC. The committee was proposed as a means to promote scientific and technological exchanges and was touted as a concession to Iran and Cuba.

 

[On Thursday, Bolton called North Korea the biggest exporter of ballistic missiles and technology in the world. "In addition to its disturbing weapons of mass destruction activities, North Korea also is the world's foremost peddler of ballistic missile-related equipment, components, materials and technical expertise," Bolton said in a speech in Seoul.]

 

Bolton said the United States has taken the initiative to combat BW. He termed the USA Patriot Act and the Public Health Security and Bio-terrorist Preparedness and Response Act as measures directed at improving the U.S. ability to combat the threat.

 

"National, bilateral, and multilateral efforts have made it more difficult for those pursuing biological weapons to obtain the necessary ingredients and made it easier to detect and counter any attack," he said.